Letter to the editor: Background on Ho-Chunk funds

By CLIFFORD PETERSON

Former Town of Whitestown Chairman

In reference to the Feb. 7 edition of the County Line regarding the funds from the Ho-Chunk Nation:

Here is a little history of the situation for new people and a review for the rest.

Before the Ho-Chunk began to pay its gambling contract to the county, they were paying $100 per acre to Whitestown and Stark in lieu of taxes on a five-year agreement.

At the end of that agreement, the townships held several meetings with the Ho Chunk to establish a new agreement.

At the last meeting, the Ho-Chunk told us something was coming that would please us.

Shortly after, we learned the gaming contracts with the state had been renegotiated, with funds set at $1,000 per acre to be paid to the county. The Ho-Chunk believed the funds should stay where their land was located, not be sent to Madison.

In my opinion, it went to the county primarily because a county-association representative was at the meeting. It is possible that had a township-association representative been there, it would have gone to the townships.

When Vernon County realized they had received a $1.2 million windfall ($1,000 per acre for the 1,200 acres of Ho-Chunk land in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve), we met with them and told them about the groundwork we had done to make this possible.

Because both townships had lost a great deal of tax base due to the failed La Farge dam project, they agreed to give $100 per acre to Stark and Whitestown for the reserve land within their borders.

Additionally, the first year, each township received $100,000.

The funds have been crucial in helping the towns deal with the tax loss.

It is hoped this agreement stays in place until a new agreement is made between the Nation and the State of Wisconsin.

Comments are closed.

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